SA President Anthony Joseph coordinates policy, advancement

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Courtesy Photo / Anthony Joseph. Elected last semester, Joseph hopes to use the current momentum to legislate reforms regarding racial inequality and confront the College’s racial history.

Leading the College of William and Mary’s student body during one of the most significant years in history, Student Assembly President Anthony Joseph ’21 is emphasizing positivity and understanding to combat present difficulties. Despite facing unprecedented circumstances, Joseph is working to improve the quality of student life for the College and make the most of his hectic senior year. 

Coming from a small farming town in New Jersey, Joseph matriculated at the College in 2017. Now in his final year, Joseph is on his way to receive degrees in both government and global studies, as he works to represent and lead the student body. 

Joseph’s tenure as president marks unseen historical and social landscapes, requiring continuous response from him and the rest of SA. Joseph and SA have found themselves not only navigating the new school year during the COVID-19 pandemic, but also navigating discussions of racism and how to address it at both the College and national level.  

Joseph described how despite the great difficulties, there is a new opportunity to speak on and fight against racism at the College. Joseph emphasized the importance of using this momentum to create legitimate change for racial equality. 

“Fortunately and unfortunately, a lot of things Kyle and I were passionate about when we were running — diversity, inclusion was big, mental health, public safety, public affairs and transparency — those were things that were very high on our radar, that we really wanted to accomplish, and because of the pandemic and a new sense of racial reckoning within this country, it expedited a lot of those conversations,” Joseph said. “It brought a lot of those things to the foreground in ways that were like ‘okay now is the moment.’ There’s a movement we need to catch this wave, we need to be a part of this wave and we need to keep riding it…We have the opportunities and ears to be able to get something done.”

“Fortunately and unfortunately, a lot of things Kyle and I were passionate about when we were running — diversity, inclusion was big, mental health, public safety, public affairs and transparency — those were things that were very high on our radar, that we really wanted to accomplish, and because of the pandemic and a new sense of racial reckoning within this country, it expedited a lot of those conversations,” Joseph said. “It brought a lot of those things to the foreground in ways that were like ‘okay now is the moment.’ There’s a movement we need to catch this wave, we need to be a part of this wave and we need to keep riding it…We have the opportunities and ears to be able to get something done.”

With this new mentality, Joseph and his cabinet are focusing on improving academic diversity throughout the College and promoting the healing of the College’s past with racial injustice, discrimination and segregation with its Black community members. 

In order to continue positive progress, Joseph spoke on how to keep momentum for the Black Lives Matter movement and the fight against racism strong. Joseph explained that the importance of continuing conversations on where racism lies in our communities and how to dismantle it is imperative for creating lasting change. 

“We need to not lose steam; it was very much the talk of the summer … it would help everybody if we keep those conversations alive,” Joseph said. “If we keep that excitement, that energy to change it, the time is now to keep doing those things. One thing that the three of us — Kyle, Loni and I — have discussed, and me being a Black man, I fear is when the national dialogue turns somewhere else, and we stop paying attentions to these things. It’s happened before. We pivot it. It loses its moment, but this needs to not be a moment. It needs to be a movement. The way to do that is for young people like us to continuously talk about it.”

Along with great conversations around reckoning with racial justice, COVID-19 has greatly impacted the lives of individuals across the country. At the College, students are faced with balancing condensed class schedules, and strict COVID-19 policies. As the school year progresses, the administration has enforced new regulations hoping to maintain the safety of the College’s community. 

Joseph spoke on the importance of following COVID-19 safety guidelines. 

“We need to hold each other accountable,” Joseph said. “… We have to accept responsibility for how we engage with our actions because this virus has a voice of its own, and there’s a way to silence it. There’s a way for us not allow it to come up, but if we do the things that we’re not supposed to do … this could end very badly for all of us.”

Throughout the restructuring of the 2020-21 school year and the push for greater accountability for diversity and anti-racism mechanisms, the administration has received great backlash for their responses to student voices. Joseph spoke on the importance of students voicing their concerns to the College’s decision-making groups, and the valid frustrations the student body has had.

“I get it,” Joseph said. “I get the bashing. I can’t tell you how many times Kyle, Lonnie, and I have been disappointed by what’s happened … We need the admin to be more clear, we need them to be more transparent, because we are the ultimate stakeholders in this process. Yes, this is a grand experiment for everybody, this is unchartered territory… if we’re un-charting new territory together, we need to be involved in at least the frame work of the decision making process — how we got there — explained to us explicitly, so we can feel comfortable with it.”

Outside of leading the student body as SA president, Joseph enjoys spending his time hiking, fishing, biking and playing “Call of Duty.” After a long six months of quarantine Joseph is hoping to get his groove back in the new academic year. 

After graduation Joseph hopes to spend his career modifying and implementing government legislation in order to create equality for Black and Brown individuals in the United States. While he is unsure of exactly what job that will be, his postgraduate plans include law school, and he is passionate about dismantling racial injustice built into the US legislative system. 

“Essentially, what I want to do, is I just really want to help Black and Brown communities,” Joseph said. “Whatever it is that I do, whether it’s actually working in politics, working for someone on the Hill, or in the legal setting, I want to be able to help transform the law so it tailors more to everybody and not just specific people.”

“Essentially, what I want to do, is I just really want to help Black and Brown communities,” Joseph said. “Whatever it is that I do, whether it’s actually working in politics, working for someone on the Hill, or in the legal setting, I want to be able to help transform the law so it tailors more to everybody and not just specific people.”

Joseph is encouraging students to stay positive and flexible within the coming months. Although he understands this semester has brought new challenges, Joseph believes the College’s community is able successfully get through it. 

“Just give it all a chance, just give this whole thing a chance,” Joseph said. “I know it’s hard. I don’t feel easy about it all the time, in fact seldom do I do, but I have to remember that if there’s any people that’d I’d be wanting to go through this pandemic with, it’s y’all. I know who we are as William and Mary students, the center of our core, who we are as people, I have confidence we’re going to get through this together.”